Kenneth Clark: Intelligence Within

Published 05 Dec 2016

Having, love, kindness and intelligence within, Kenneth Bancroft Clark has largely contributed to the perspective change of black Americans in his nation. The American Psychological Association owes lot from Dr. Clark for being the key the African American to participate on the said association.

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Kenneth Clark was an African American born on July 14,1914 at Panama Canal Zone. His father, superintendent for the United Fruit Company, is quite earning more than enough money. Even though, with their stable life, when Kenneth reached five, his mother decided to send him and her sister to Harlem, New York for the thinking that they could have better educational opportunities there. Being different in terms of skin color, together with white students, with the fact that Clark is black, is quite hard for him that time. Racism, as a part of American culture is a serious thing. But, unexpectedly, Clark never received any unusual treatment in his school.

One day, he was asked by his teacher to solve a certain problem and he didn’t make it and instead, the teacher asked why he can’t do so. He was treated fairly like with is other white American classmates. Kenneth Clark was that exceptional, considering that he was a middle school student. Then time came that Clark needs to pursue his study in high school. And just like other ordinary students, he faced a small problem.

Accidentally, by the time Clark entered the school, counselors were conducting an invitation for them to attend a certain school for training. When this has come to the knowledge of his mother, Mrs. Clark quickly approached the counselors and informed that they didn’t come to that country to raise a factory worker. Because of this incidence, Clark was sent to another school which was an academic school. With Kenneth’s new school, his excellence was seen. He did well in the field of economics, and decided to pursue this course as a lifetime career, but in the end, changed his mind for being discriminated by his teacher.

After that racial discrimination, Clark became more eager to know why such kind of discrimination exists. Done with high school, Clark continued at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1931. That time, it is hard to find schools who accept black students, and luckily, this university is not one of it. Upon entering the university, he was aiming of becoming a medical doctor. But suddenly, when he reached his second year in college, and took up psychology, his perspective has changed. Francis Summer, his professor, discussed how racial discrimination brought up American culture, and how this racism changed human behavior, as well as the role of black people on the society.

By the year 1936, Clark got his masteral degree and taught at the same school. After pursuing the masteral degree, Clark was not yet convinced with the knowledge he obtain, so he decided to get a doctorate degree in psychology. Clark felt, upon having his doctorate that he wants to teach an integrated school someday. At last, by the year 1940, Clark finished his doctorate in psychology, and was the first black American to graduate with doctorate at Columbia University. Afterwards, he settled his life to his co-psychology doctorate student, Mamie Phipps.

He raised his family by pursuing his career as a psychology professor. Hampton Institute was also another traditional black college on where he taught. Clark had only one term at the school, for being uncomfortable, and also a little bit of time working for the government. After those experiences, Clark tried his luck of being part of the faculty in City College of New York, and fortunately, he got it. (Bradley, M.2002). He was the first American to enter and given a prominent status at the University of California, Berkley and at Harvard, Columbia.

Being one of those, Clark focused his specialization to racism and segregation, and this became the main focus of his psychological works. He totally dedicated with community works especially when it deals with youth. He was a big help with the youth, by using his name for searching sponsors on community projects and programs. One is the Northside Center for Child Development which aimed to help poverty stricken children. Those experiences of him have pushed Clark to be concerned with the effects of racism with the other black youth. This program has been the center and place for youth to receive therapies for those who have experienced racism. They also conducted experiments and researches at the center. One of those researches was the selection between white doll and black doll.

They asked for the participation of the black children and they were asked to bring the doll that implies negative or the one that looks bad. As expected, they brought the black one. This case simply shows the negative effect of racism and segregation on their self-image. After this study, in between of 1939-1950, they have published articles which mostly deal with racism and segregation. By the year 1954, his research has been a major factor in the historic Brown v. committee or the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. His experiment implied that segregation has brought black children to see themselves in the negative way, as a result of racism. The court’s decision had favored Linda Brown. This court appearance brought Clark in the main light.

He was recognized, and became the hero of African American community, together with his wife. With this incidence, he was offered lots of awards and significant positions by organizations. Being already awell known psychologist, he was given infinite numbers of recognition and publication. One of he’s most popular book that gathered praises and recognitions is the Dark Ghetto: Dilemma of Social Power published in 1965. (Bradley, M., 2002) The book tackled the comparison of situations between black Americans and one that were colonized by Europeans. The Negro American in 1966, and Crisis in Urban Education in 1970, Your Child, in 1953, gathered the interest of the audience as well as the Black Community Nationalist. He also caught the attention of several known people and conducted interviews with him such as, James Baldwin, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr., and was compiled to book titled The Negro Protest in 1963. He was also the president of Metropolitan Applied Research Center Incorporated till 1964. Then 1975, they become consultants, with their very own consulting firm, for those who seeks advice on racial issues.

As a whole, the research done on Harlem was his winning research which brought him to be what he is now. He justified that racism doesn’t only result to self-image and racial identification but also in terms of education quality. His dream of teaching an integrated was made a hundred percent possible. Clark was considered the most prominent psychologist of twentieth. He will always be remembered for such an extraordinary works and contributions.


  • Biography: Kenneth Clark: Bradley, M.,Dreamfire Production
  • Intelligence in The Service of Love and Kindness: Whitely, J .
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